posted on 3-Oct-2001 12:20:40 AM
Title: Hail Jing-Bang – 41
Author: Red the Mighty
Email: red⊕ctepc.com
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Roswell belongs to 20th Century Fox and UPN and not to me.
Category: Other (CC)
Summary: Secret bases, conspiracies, evil aliens, truth, lies, betrayal, and things not being as they seem. All that good stuff.
Spoilers: Could be anything up to To Serve and Protect I guess.
Feedback: Yes please. I love feedback; it makes me so happy.
Archive: Hey, it’s all yours, just drop me a line telling me where so I can visit.


All previous parts can be found here
http://www.geocities.com/redthemighty/library/fiction_red_hjb.html

AN -
Sorry about the delay. I've been back and forth between California and Colorado quite a bit recently. Anyway, I wanted to try and get this chapter right. I hope I succeeded.


******

Friday, February 9th

MICHAEL IS HOME!

******

Later Friday, February 9th

MICHAEL IS HOME!

I know I said that already but I think it bears repeating.

God he looked so good. Well actually he looked like death warmed over but in a really good way. I so needed to see him now; it was just like the absolute best timing. I mean yesterday was such a god-awful hell of a day. After Liz’s little Shirley MacLaine moment everything just sort of went downhill.

There I was having to sit through fifty of the worst minutes of my life, listening to some lame lecture on the evolution of corn, while, for all I know, two of my best friends are out there somewhere being assassinated. I just had a million and one thoughts going through my brain, every worse case scenario the dark side of my head could come up with flashing through like some Steven Spielberg on acid flick. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and just had to get out of class. I faked a case of cramps and after my in depth description of them, Mr. Early let me go without a fight.

Thank god I was able to get everybody together without too much trouble. I just had to tell Isabel what was going on and then she went one way, I went the other and five minutes later everybody was ready to go. I have to admit we were all seriously freaked out by the lack of any sort of bodyguard presence outside. They’d been everywhere for almost a week and now, nothing.

I actually managed to get the Jetta up on two wheels when we turned the corner on to the Evans’ street. Michael would have been seriously impressed, I’m sure. And when we all just burst into the house, I could totally see how much we scared the absolute hell out of Max and Isabel’s parents. They had no clue. Of course they didn’t. I mean they just found out their kids are aliens and now somebody is trying to kill them? Welcome to our lives, they’re like a madcapped romp. Chief Ross was there too but he refused to come with us, he said something about the Queen’s parents and took off.

I’m pretty sure we made the streets of Roswell look a lot like a chase scene in a corny action flick. Okay I can sort of laugh about it now, but I wish I would have had a camera so I could capture forever the look on Sheriff Valenti’s face when he stopped us. We told him what was going down and I made him swear he’d look after my mom. He tried to come with us but I think I made it fairly clear to him just what the hell he was supposed to be doing. Oh what a power rush, issuing orders to the Man. If I hadn’t been so completely scared out of my mind, I would have enjoyed the moment.

So the whole way out to the camp I’m wishing I could see in every direction at once and I can tell Isabel’s doing the same thing. It was a feeling similar to the one you’d get after about your fifth cappuccino. Every bush looked like it was the perfect place to hide a hundred armed bad guys. And every other car on the road was out to get us. Hello paranoia squared. It was fun. Not even a little bit.

We did get to the camp without any trouble though. But I swear, not a tenth of a second after I stepped out of the Jetta, Torquil was on me. He started asking all these annoying questions, trying to make sure I was okay and stuff. Well sad to say but I wasn’t in the mood for the giant gnat. I think I ended up saying something fairly rude to him and I ditched him by getting myself lost in the maze of tents. On purpose.

Eventually my luck came through and I ran into Liz. I was so happy to see her in one piece. But she was freaking in a fairly epic way about having been chosen by the Granolith or something. I’m not sure I understood the whole story. She was almost incoherent, not a state you usually find Liz in. We had a sort of concentrated girl talk, which ended with me calling her an idiot and shoving her into her tent so she’d talk to Max. I so did not need to deal with that angst. Needless, imaginary angst. God, so some stupid alien artifact thinks she’s perfect for the guy she’s desperately in love with. Gee, that sucks, no really, it’s horrible, a nightmare in fact. Okay, so I could have been a little more tactful and understanding. But come on, our stress level is ridiculously high anyway, can we please not add to it unless it’s absolutely necessary?

So night fell, as it does. For a while I felt kind of like I’d just go nuts sitting out here all night not being able to check on my mom to make sure she’s okay. I know that, supposedly, the three guys who saved Max and Liz got rid of the assassins but I just felt so on edge last night I could hardly sit still.

Oh rapture, I have an editor. Fine. I revise that last sentence then. I felt so on edge last night I was even more restless then usual.

ANYWAY, I still don’t feel really good about my mom being all alone in town. I feel like I should be there with her. Not that there’d be anything I could do if any more assassins showed up, but I hate this not knowing. I feel like I’m jumping at shadows. I almost want to tell her the truth. Almost. You know, I’m honestly not sure how she’d react. I try to imagine it but nothing rings true. Guess there’s only one way to know but I’m not ready for that, and anyway, I’d never do it without everybody’s okay.

So there was the amazingly awful day, followed by an agonizingly long night, but then Alex came into my tent at like four in the morning. I called him many unkind names in several languages but he came to me as the bearer of the best news I’d heard in weeks.


******

Maria watched Max and Liz disappear into the command tent before turning her eyes back to Michael.

"So who chewed you up and spit you out?"

A small smile crossed Michael’s face and he had Maria in his arms before she could even blink. He crushed her to him, holding her as close as he could, hardly even breathing himself.

"Later," he whispered in her ear.

He let her go as quickly as he had pulled her to him. Swaying on her feet at his sudden release, she grabbed his hand in an effort to keep her balance. Michael immediately tightened the grip and pulled her after him into the command tent.

Michael paced the tent impatiently as he explained to the others where he’d been and what he knew. He tugged Maria after him as he moved nervously about and Maria for her part seemed content to suffer in silence. Liz and Max exchanged an amused glance when they saw how fiercely Michael held onto her.

"So that’s where we’re at, Maxwell. From what I’ve seen we’re seriously outnumbered," Michael told him.

Max shoved his hands in his pockets and looked down on the maps on the table. "They could be anywhere?"

"Well a few specific points. But, yeah, they could be all around us. I don’t think we want to be sitting out here," Michael said ominously.

"Any idea of how much time we have?"

Michael shrugged. "I’m sorry, man. I have no clue. But since they’ve been willing to attack your other camps and they’re moving supplies, I think it’d be pretty safe to assume any time now."

"Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of." Max chewed on his lower lip while his mind frantically tried to come up with an idea. "I guess we should get all our, um, generals together and figure out our next move."

"Well I can tell you right now that my guy doesn’t want us to be within a hundred miles of this camp. He says it’s too big a target and you just don’t have the defenses here to hold off a full on attack." Michael walked over to the table, towing Maria along with him, and looked over Max’s shoulder at the maps. "You know we were doing pretty good in a small group. Maybe it might be a good idea to break up into smaller divisions or whatever. That way we aren’t in one place where they can just nuke us all at once."

"Oh good the slasher movie approach to finding the bad guys," Maria said dryly.

Michael shot her a dirty look and squeezed her hand almost painfully. "It’s called guerilla warfare."

Maria rolled her eyes. "I know that Michael. Oh, I’m sorry - General Guerin. Look, we know they’re out there. They know where we are. Can we really just split up into groups that easily? If they’re watching us it won’t be any more of a problem for them to just pick us off one at a time then it would for the group nuke. Maybe we should, I don’t know, dig in, or something."

"Sure we can just stand out here with our thumbs up our . . ."

Liz stepped in quickly as the voice of reason. "If the attack is going to come at any second there’s not much we can do right now anyway. Not much other then just stay ready at any rate. So I say we catch a few more hours of sleep, then we get Michael’s people and our people together and decide what to do. Okay?"

Exhausted as they were the others agreed readily and the group broke up quickly, returning wearily to their tents.

"Where’s your tent?" Michael asked Maria after the others had disappeared.

She gestured airily off to one side of the camp with her free hand. "It’s that way."

Michael looked down at her quickly then strode off in the direction she’d indicated.

"Hey!" She yelped when he hauled her with him. "Michael! My hand, hey. Do you think I can have my hand back? You know I think I lost feeling in my fingers about thirty minutes ago."

Michael ignored her pleas to release her hand and pulled her up next to him. "Which one?"

Maria shot him a vicious glare. "I think maybe you need to find your own tent, Michael."

Her breath caught in her throat when she finally looked into his eyes. It was there that she could see what he’d struggled to control since his arrival. He was on the ragged edge and he was a heartbeat away from going over. Maria closed her mouth and took the lead, bringing them swiftly to her tent.

Michael finally freed her hand when they got inside and Maria promptly turned on the lamp and pushed Michael into a chair.

"Michael? What happened?"

Michael looked away from her. "Can I get a shower or clean up somewhere around here?"

Maria stared at him in silence, just long enough for her to make the point to him that she’d let it go for the moment but she wouldn’t forget it. "Yeah. We can probably get you some clean clothes too. Hold on."

She started towards the tent’s flap when Michael grabbed her hand again. "Wait. Where are you going?"

"Michael if you want to get a shower you have to let go of me. I’m just gonna stick my head out the tent here and call a steward, okay?" She told him softly.

Michael let go of her hand quickly and slouched back in the chair tiredly. "You’ll wait here for me?"

Maria stared at him curiously. "Michael, this is my tent. I’m not going anywhere."

******

Michael stood nervously outside of Maria’s tent. He’d cleaned himself up quickly, wanting to return to her as soon as possible but now that he was there he hesitated, his earlier desperation to see her replaced by insecurity. He knew what he wanted now but what if she didn’t? What if she laughed at him? What if she simply couldn’t put up with him anymore? What if for as hard as he tried he still ended up hurting her, driving her away?

He could feel himself start to shut down again. It was just so much easier to bury everything he felt, to hide all those vulnerable parts of himself, then it was to open them up and leave them bare for anybody to take a poke at. It’s not possible to be rejected if you reject everything else first, was a principle he’d long lived by, a truth of his life. He didn’t think it was one he wanted to live by anymore but it was so very hard to give up.

Michael knew he was being a coward but the acid burning in his stomach just wouldn’t go away. He took a deep breath and resisted the urge to bolt. There was one certainty he knew, if he shut down and pushed her away again she wouldn’t come back. It wasn’t that that was an acceptable situation to him at all it was that the uncertainty was so much more terrifying. If he opened himself to her and she still left, could he survive it, he wondered?

"Michael?"

Michael jumped at the sudden intrusion into his thoughts. He faced Maria, abashed. "Um, sorry. Just thinking."

She frowned at him. "I was wondering what was taking you so long. Are you gonna come in or do you want to keep staring at the tent?"

He narrowed his eyes and silently pushed past her into the tent. He stopped uncomfortably just inside. "Um, maybe it’d be better if I got my own tent. You, uh, you need to rest."

Maria raised an eyebrow, pursed her lips and stared at him evenly.

Michael rolled his eyes and sat down on the floor. "I hate it when you do that," he grumbled.

"You want to know the truth, Michael?"

"About what?" He asked in confusion.

"I’m pretty much exhausted."

"Which is why I should go find my own place to . . ."

"Which is why you should let me finish what I was going to say," Maria snapped. "Okay? Silence. Got it?"

"Right," he muttered.

"As I was saying. I’m pretty tired. It’s been a hell of a week. Or actually it’s been hell for about a month. I want two things right now. I want to know that you’re okay, and I want to know that when I eventually fall back asleep I’m going to be able to wake up and you’ll be here."

Michael met her expectant gaze with a small nod. "I’ll be here."

"Good," she said firmly. "Now, tell me that you’re okay." She settled herself on the edge of her bed and waited for him to speak.

"I’m okay."

Maria shook her head. "Not good enough, Spaceboy. Convince me."

Michael smiled at the use of her nickname for him. "I missed you."

"I missed you too but you’re stalling and I’m not buying it. Spit it out."

Michael sighed and lay back, staring up at the ceiling of the tent. "I just saw some stuff that kind of sucked. I’m glad to be home."

"What kind of stuff?" Maria persisted.

"I lost a couple of guys and I, uh, I saw their hybrid lab and that was pretty nasty. I kinda don’t want to relive that stuff right now."

"Can we talk about it when you wake up screaming with nightmares?" Maria asked pointedly.

"That’s not even a little bit funny," Michael snarled.

"It wasn’t meant to be. Are you going to bury it and try and forget about it until it drives you crazy or are you ever going to talk about it?"

"We’ll talk about it, okay? Just not right now. I don’t want to go there at this exact moment in time."

"Fine." Maria crossed her arms.

"Maria?" Michael asked almost hesitantly.

"What?"

"I – I, uh, never mind," he finished lamely.

"No. Tell me. What?"

"Nothing. Seriously." He pushed himself up from the floor and moved to sit beside her on the bed. He took her hand again and in an uncharacteristically tender gesture kissed her fingers.

"Michael, please."

"Maria there’s some stuff I gotta tell you. Think you can stay quiet long enough for me to finish?" He asked wryly.

"Somehow I’ll manage I’m sure."

"Okay." He took a deep breath and tried to steel his resolve. "I’m sorry, about everything that I said and did the past few weeks. You know I didn’t mean it right? I just, you know, I just had to make sure that everybody was safe and that that freak Tesher was gone."

Maria stroked his arm gently. "I know, Michael. I understand."

"Good. Just had to get that out of the way."

Maria laughed softly and shook her head. "Still stalling Spaceboy."

"Yeah, yeah." He looked up at her hesitantly. "The thing is, Maria, I’m gonna screw up again. You know it, I know it, and people on at least six planets know it. It’s just what’s gonna happen."

"Michael," Maria protested. "Everybody messes up."

Michael clapped a hand over Maria’s mouth to silence her. "You gotta let me finish this, Maria. So now’s the time to shut up."

Maria snorted at the indignity but nodded her head to show she’d remain quiet.

Michael turned her so that she was facing him more squarely and he moved his hand to caress her cheek. They stared intently into one another’s eyes for several long seconds before Michael spoke again.

"Your mom’s right. There are better guys then me out there for you." He hurriedly pressed his fingers to her lips again when it looked like she was about to break her silence. "It’s true, Maria. There’s a lot of stuff in my life that I’m not proud of. There’re a lot of things I don’t want you to have to deal with. Plenty of crap I wish I could close my eyes and make go away. But alien powers aside, I know that’s not gonna happen. I realized some things while I was gone, though.

"When I was a kid all I wanted was to get away. I wanted that spaceship to come and I wanted somebody to tell me this had all been some big mistake and they came to take me home. The only people I could ever count on were Max and Isabel. They’re my family and I thought that that was just the way things had to be. And that was cool by me. The three of us against the world. But things have changed. I don’t want that spaceship to come now, and I don’t want this to be a mistake. Max and Isabel are still my family but so are Liz and Alex and you.

"My life’s been a mess for a long time, Maria, and like I said, your mom’s right, but the thing is I don’t want you to be with anybody else but me. I’m gonna screw up again, Maria. But I need to know that when I do you’re gonna be around long enough for me to fix it."

Maria couldn’t quite keep the tears from her eyes as she gave Michael a small smile. Leaning forward she brushed a gentle kiss across his lips and wrapped her arms around his neck. Michael extricated himself from the embrace and put his hands on her shoulders.

"I don’t have much to give you Maria. I’m probably never gonna pick you up in a limo or take you off to some resort in France."

"Michael, I don’t want that."

Maria moved towards him again and Michael pulled back one more time. "I – I want to give you everything I have, everything I am. It’s not much."

"Michael stop it. Okay? Just stop it. If you want to pick me up in a limo someday, fine, if you want to fly off with me to Cannes some day, great, but I’m not with you on the off chance that something like that is ever going to happen. I’m with you because I love you.

"You say you’re gonna screw up again? Yeah, I’m sure you will. I’ll even lay odds that sometime in the next twenty-four hours I’m gonna want to throttle you." Michael smirked and Maria narrowed her eyes. "I could revise that to sometime in the next twenty-four seconds."

Michael’s smirk turned into a grin and he laughed when Maria punched him gently on the shoulder.

"My point is," Maria said loudly. "I know who you are, Michael. I know the kind of man you are. And if you want my informed opinion, there isn’t a better guy out there for me."

Michael snorted in disbelief.

"What? You don’t agree? Well how many guys are going to infiltrate the camp of an evil alien army? How many guys are going to lead a rebellion in that army? How many guys are going to go to hell and back just to make sure that the people they care about are safe? I couldn’t even come up with five guys who’d do that."

Michael shrugged his shoulders uncomfortably and looked away.

"I know how scared you were," Maria told him softly. "But you did it anyway." She leaned forward and began to gently kiss his face. His cheeks, his chin, his lips. "I’m so proud of you."

Michael kissed her back, enjoying the sensation of being with her again. After a long moment he pulled back to get a breath. "I need to ask you something, Maria."

She gazed at him curiously. "What?"

"I know, uh, I know this is kind of strange. I need something from you."

Maria eyed him cautiously. "Okay."

"I need to know you’re not gonna leave me."

Maria shook her head. "Michael, really . . ."

"Marry me."

Maria’s mouth dropped open in shock and she scrambled to her feet, backing away from him. "What? Are you completely insane."

Michael leaned back on the bed and watched her closely. "I don’t mean today."

Maria paced the tent anxiously; ticking items off of her fingers one at a time. "Okay one, my mother will kill you. Two, I’m only seventeen. Three, we’re still in high school. Well I’m still in high school, I don’t know about you. Four, my mother will kill you."

Michael made himself more comfortable. "One, I’m not afraid of your mom."

"Oh really?"

"Two, I’m not saying we have to do it right now. You want to do it tomorrow, we’ll do it tomorrow, you want to do it in five years, we’ll do it then. Three, I’ll figure it out. Four, really."

"You can’t be serious."

"Why not?"

Maria was panicking, hyperventilating, and her mind was whirling frantically. "Because – because you’re like this guy, okay. This guy who totally doesn’t do that whole commitment thing. Right?"

"You don’t want to, just say so," Michael replied coldly. He tried to keep the bitterness and hurt out of his voice. He’d surprised her, obviously, and it wasn’t fair to expect her to just fall in his arms, but he couldn’t ignore the sour taste of rejection that was building in his throat.

Maria stopped pacing and tried to catch her breath. She looked down on him sprawled across her bed, she watched as he stared up at the roof of the tent, studiously avoiding her gaze. She sat down next to him and tried to get him to look at her. He refused until she grabbed his chin in her hand and forcefully turned him towards her.

"Michael. Hey, look at me."

He glared up at her, his façade of indifference firmly back in place.

"I love you, Michael, but unlike you I am afraid of my mother."

"So we don’t tell her."

Maria lay down on the bed next to him, resting her head on his shoulder. "Why now?"

"I need you with me."

"I am with you."

"So just say you’ll marry me some day."

"You’re totally serious, aren’t you?"

Michael nodded jerkily.

"Some day, Michael."

Michael quirked a smile down at her. "Is that a yes?"

"You got it, Spaceboy."

******

Red



Edited by - Red on 10/04/2001 04:28:56
posted on 15-Oct-2001 4:13:17 AM
AN: hey everybody. This chapter is kinda short I know, but we're getting down to it and big stuffs a-coming.
Angela - I've had absolutely zero luck on the job hunt, it's getting a tad depressing. Thanks for the good job thoughts. Much appreciated.


******

edited to say - hrm, can't edit the subject line. Guess I'll put this in a new thread then.


Red

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 15-Oct-2001 4:15:09 AM ]